One Happy Heart Transplant’s Thanksgiving

| December 9, 2012 | 11 Comments

ThanksgivingToday there are 3,390 persons on heart transplant wait lists across the US.

1,785 hearts have been successfully transplanted in 2012.

2,332 heart transplants took place in 2011.

Since 1988, 53,925 heart transplants have been performed in the US.

At 109 Woods Lane, we have so much for which to be thankful. On the evening before Thanksgiving, we housed 6 boys for the night. It was a frisky but thoroughly enjoyable night. Somehow, they all fell asleep at the appointed hour.

At 11:00 a.m. Thanksgiving day more troops began to arrive. Hiland jr. and Ashley brought their two girls, Lily and Victoria. It was off to the swing set and ladders as the ladies of the house declared the inside off limits for table settings and preparation. A few adults savored Bloody Mary’s while others chose the champagne root.

By noon, cousins, grandparents and friends began to arrive. Kickoff was 12:30 and the treeless orchard was transformed into a football field where players from age 2.5 to 72 battled for an hour and a half. The outcome was undecided because the official referee (me) was summoned to serve house duty. It was decided that everybody won.

After the game, tag teams were organized for the potato race, where Lily Doolittle, who turned three on Thanksgiving Day, was the decided winner as she not only delivered the potato to her partner in fine stead but then beat him to the finish line as well. emerged the winner. Please see video attached.

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Lily was born 20 days after my heart transplant on November 2, 2009. Without that transplant, I would not have met the three blonde grandchildren on the left side of the isle.

Please enjoy the photos and the clip. If you are on a wait list for heart transplantation somewhere and you are getting discouraged, stay the fight. Comply with doctor’s orders and soon Thanksgiving and every other holiday will take on a much deeper meaning.

I have had my trials and tribulations in recovery. I have found myself and my God. I am surrounded by loving people with energy. My brain has become unfrozen. But, we heart transplant recipients know what it means to Pay It Forward, as nurse Rose once reminded me after transplantation. There is work to be done.

This Thanksgiving was especially powerful for me. Everybody was under one roof. We had a fully opened adult table and children’s tables and everybody had an appetite.

My hope is that wherever you are in the transplant cycle, you will rejoice in your prolonged life or in the hope that accompanies the wait. Even after you walk out of your transplant center with your new heart working beautifully, life will still be too short. Make sure you enjoy!  All the best, Hiland



11 Comments on "One Happy Heart Transplant’s Thanksgiving"

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  1. Kristen Smith says:

    Beautiful story! Still waiting to see if my father will get a chance to be evaluated at Duke Medical Center. Need a miracle!

  2. Hiland Doolittle says:

    Thanks Kristen. IWe pray for you and your father. Please keep me posted. Best, Hiland

  3. Adrienne says:

    I am thankful for you my wonderful friend. Your words are an inspiration.

  4. Ursula McIntyre says:

    So happy to see , that you are doing well. We all miss you in Tampa

  5. Hiland Jr says:

    Love it Dad! Hope we get many more. Lily and I both had an absolutelty great day.

  6. Ann Daly says:

    It was a wonderful Thanksgiving and it was great seeing all the Doolittle-Oberting clan celebrating together!! :)

  7. Sean OBrien says:

    Dear Hiland and Suzie,

    Many thanks for the update on your very graced and meaningful Thanksgiving.

    Please know of our continued prayers and support and I hope your travels will bring you south again and that we are able to connect in Tampa,

    Peace and all good,

    Sean OBrien, OFM

  8. Bella Pipas says:


    Beautiful story, very inspirational. Keep going forward…life is full of surprises.


  9. sheila semo says:

    What a great story! Loved the video and picture!!!
    Keep smiling because when you do the whole world smiles with you!

  10. Geoffrey Stone says:

    Dear Hiland and Family,

    What a marvelous way to celebrate the first anniversary of your heart transplant. May you all continue to rejoice in the miracles that our modern medicine provides.

  11. Hiland Doolittle says:

    Hey Geoff, Actually it was three years 11-02-12. It has been a challenge as you can see from this blog. We lived in Tampa for three years and came home in April this year for a prolonged stay. It’s been challenging with lots of unexpected thrills but I’ll be at the 50th! Remember, I now what you drank the night JFK was assasinated.

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